Jester Leadership Stories is a blog series of leadership and leaders that we have had the pleasure of working with and want to share with you. We hope these stories inspire discussion and action for the development of great leadership.

Paolo Borella, CEO Vertical Accelerator



: “Hi, Paolo. What is your story?”

Paolo: “My working journey started back in the 80’s in my hometown Milano, which was already then an exciting hub for innovation and entrepreneurship. I got bitten by the excitement and jumped into the startup circles.”

“After a few years of startup hustle I decided to test the corporate world and ended up working 20 years for GE, Nokia and Fox Mobile in The USA, Asia and Europe – around the world.”

“I never lost my appetite for startups and got bitten again in Berlin, where I started to mentor them. With Nokia my journey continued to Finland where I continued mentoring startups and helped to build the Helsinki startup infrastructure – Startup Sauna, AppCampus and Vertical Accelerator.”

“I love my work. It is about people and passion. So is my free time; -it is about triathlon, downhill skiing, all outdoor sports.”

Jester: “Paolo, what is your leadership style?”

Paolo: “I tend to focus on people. A great leader inspires others and creates an environment where everybody can contribute at their best. Mutual trust and respect are also important elements. Cool leaders have an attitude for helping others to grow and develop the resources working for them.”

“I value diversity. Culture, gender, age, background, diversity. I like to work with people, who can challenge in a constructive way and help to push the limit a bit further. I like to leverage the diversity and teamwork for out-of-the-box thinking.”

“I want people to grow. It is awesome to see people growing so that I am not needed anymore. In terms of my targets I want to see that I can help people to grow.”

“I value family. I think that Vertical and the community around it is a family. Not just any family, but a family where everyone finds value for themselves. There are processes and clear roles to make it sustainable and look for improvements. We need to keep on improving.”

Jester: “What’s your advice for leaders?”

Paolo: “I have had the luck to have been exposed to different leadership styles in my career. In crisis situations a strict style might be needed, but that must be an exception in the style.”

“For growth you need pressure. A right amount of pressure. And learning to manage the amount is the skill for developing leadership and growth as a person.”


Paolo Borella
Vertical Accelerator


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